If I am thinking of selling my home, should I pay for a professional appraisal before I put it on the market so I will know what it is worth?
Dear Appraisal Inquiry,
You have asked a very interesting question. There are some instances when it is definitely a good idea. I think all of the great appraisers in the Vail Valley would agree there are important factors to be considered first. It often is a good idea to have an appraisal done if you and your trusted Realtor are of vastly differing opinions of what your property will sell for, or if there are legal issues such as in the case of divorce or an estate sale.
If the aforementioned issues do not apply, then I think there are factors worth looking at before you pay for a pre-listing appraisal.
Here are the factors you need to know prior to ordering an appraisal on an unlisted property:
• A qualified appraiser must use strict rules to give a written report and will probably use the “direct sales comparison approach.” This can be effective unless there have not been many sales in your area, which often is the case. In an improving market, the older sales may not reflect the new improving prices, and even though there may be several properties “under contract” at higher prices, you may still get a lower appraisal estimate of value.
• Appraisers are human just like the rest of us, and although they are very good at being objective, occasionally an emotional/personal opinion of how the property looks from the outside (curb appeal), the history,and the cleanliness of the property, staging, etc., will affect the final evaluation. My advice is to always have your property looking as nice as possible for the appraiser, inspectors and of course the buyers! We are all subject to first impressions.
• Once you have ordered and paid for an appraisal, it can stay with the property for six months before it is considered invalid. If you do not like the result you get, and you go ahead and list at a higher price, then receive a contract offer that is higher than the appraisal, and the lender for the buyer calls the same appraiser, then you will most likely get the same low appraisal value unless something drastic has changed in the home or the area.
• When a home goes under contract and the buyer is getting a loan, the lender calls for an appraisal that is paid for by the buyer. The job of the appraiser at this time, as I understand it, is to verify the property is indeed worth the purchase price. Therefore, the appraiser is given a copy of the contract with the purchase price and is assigned the task of substantiating that sales price. This explains why the appraised prices are often the exact purchase amount. The appraiser is not necessarily being asked if it is worth more, only if it is worth, at least, the purchase price.
Realtors could not get along without appraisers. We call to consult with one another on a regular basis as we respect each other’s knowledge and expertise. Since every situation is unique, it is best to call your experienced local Realtor for their advice and recommendations on what appraisers to call when you are ready to make this decision.
Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team of qualified experts. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact her with your real estate questions at Joan@teamblackbear.com, 970-337-7777 or www.teamblackbear.com.